Asbury Farms is an ambitious undertaking based on the vision of turning once blighted land into a buffet of fresh fruits and vegetables. Asbury Farms sits in the middle of a community facing substantial food insecurity. And as a result of lead that was present in the public water supply for over a year before it became public knowledge, daily nutrition for our residents is crucial for keeping the negative affects of lead poisoning dormant. Asbury Farms is the fruit of one of Asbury CDC’s key strategic goals — to be a center for health and wellness.
In addition to moving our community from a food desert to an exporter of food, Asbury Farms also offers residents employment and a pathway towards creating employment for themselves.
The strategy is simple. Create a farm incubator that makes it affordable for an enterprising person to learn, start a farm and earn a living. The Flint Farming Project provides the know-how, land, materials, equipment, seeds and transplants that otherwise create barriers for the people of our community.
Asbury Farms continues to expand. In 2019 we purchased the remainder of available lots at our Bennett campus that includes lots along Hamilton Avenue where we are expanding our strawberry production. Both of our campuses on the north side of Jane Avenue are in full production. Our main campus is now supported by a solar-powered irrigation system connected to a well as a water source. We have two additional hoop houses in production east of Minnesota Avenue and a third one under construction. This is a total of 11 hoop houses in production with 7 of them planted and winterized for cold crops to allow for harvesting year round. We have plans to build three hoop houses on the south side of Jane Avenue during 2020.
Asbury Farms is one part of Asbury’s response to the water crisis in Flint. Asbury has been a Water Resource Center since the beginning of the crisis, providing space for healthcare providers, bottled water, filters, other personal items, and food. “Nutrition is an important part of our strategy to combat the negative affects of lead,” notes Jim Craig, Board Chair at Asbury CDC. “ Asbury has been an advocate for nutrition in our community for the past nine years, but this is our most ambitious project ever.
“I am excited about the possibilities for our community coming together to not only offer short term relief by offering water and filters, but to be a part of a longer term solution,” says The Reverend Dr Tommy McDoniel, Executive Director of Asbury CDC. Asbury Farms is one part of the vision that God has given to Pastor Tommy and others for a transformed neighborhood.
Asbury is thankful for the generous in-kind donations and funding that make our farm to table operations possible, including financial support from the Americana Foundation, the Ruth Mott Foundation, United Way, the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, and many others. We also receive flowers, transplants and perennials from Walker Farms, volunteers from our community, volunteers from numerous organizations outside of Michigan, garden materials from various sources, compost from McKay Farms, grants and loans from the UMC East Winds District, the USDA, Knoblock Hardware and perennials including fruit trees, rose bushes, flowers and grapevines from Bundschuh Landscape Center. We also have a toolshed located in a semi-trailer donated by A1 Mobile Storage Leasing.
To volunteer or to provide in-kind donations please contact Asbury CDC directly. Remember that you can earn MyFlintStones when you volunteer that can be exchanged for produce or use them at the Asbury Café or other participating restaurants. For financial donations click HERE or on the GIVING link an Asbury’s home page.